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Live’s lead singer Ed Kowalczyk Inspired me…Yes, I Said It

“The angel opens her eyes

Pale blue colored iris

Presents the circle

And puts the glory out to hide.”

dragon_bones.indd

The band Live’s lead singer Ed Kowalczyk wrote the song “Lightning Crashes” as he envisioned a hospital, where families continuously mourn the loss of one human being as others are born. The song is about the cycle of life, death, and rebirth, and the angel’s opening and closing of her eyes depicts birth and death. Life’s circle is sung powerfully, and the glory of divine life hidden deep within each of us comes out to hide as magic flows like air. Kowalczyk explains this wonderful movement of life in words as simple as his lyrics. “It is there before us in plain sight, but hidden because we see the flesh rather than the spirit within.”

“Lighting Crashes” lends itself to other interpretations, and mine is quite simple. What if an angel were to crash on earth one day? What if we hid it? Don’t you think another angel would come down to earth one day to take this fallen angel back to heaven?

I was inspired by the song “Lightning Crashes” to write Dragon Bones: Two Angels Leave at Sunrise.

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Could An “OHIO 2029” America Really Happen? Part 2

Let the Hatred Begin

Ohio2029.indd

The 2104 mid-term elections was the start of a dramatic change in Washington, D.C. The Presidency was still in liberal hands, but power on Capital Hill was on the move, with republicans taking an even larger major in the House and democrats holding a slim 51-49 lead in the Senate. Problem was: Nine democrat senators kept their seats but all but abandoned Obama’s progressive policies.

The “lame-duck presidency began on January (), 2015, and the first action in Congress was to deliver the Federal Employee Actions Bill (FEAB), which mandated all civil service employees of the United States Government to cease and desist all political activities in the workplace.

The bill was vetoed by President Obama, but public opinion had already shifted–An August 10, 2015 Rasmussen poll showed 76 percent supported overreaching efforts to rid politics out of Administration agencies. The same poll showed 71 percent supported FEAB requirements to go after government employees who actively engage in political activities.

It’s a small world…so write about it.

 

D.A. (Dennis) Winstead

Award-winning International Author

Inspirational Blogger and

Founder and Head of

Color Him Father Foundation

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A Recent Book Review Got Me Thinking…Could An “OHIO 2029” America Really Happen?

Ohio2029.indd“A combination of 1984 and Romeo and Juliet…You have an uncanny knack of revealing the dark side of politics. You said a lot here about what happens to people when politics is taken to the extreme. Common ground can aid people with different opinions to resolve problems together. Thanks for a great read and I am very serious about a prequel showing of the reform zones.”

 

After a book reviewer posted the above, I realized that my struggle to stay focused on the lives of two families kept me from delving too deeply into the incomprehensible political shift fictionalized in OHIO 2029. The story is set in post-economic collapse America, fourteen years after the Red State party took over in 2016. In 2029, the nation is 80 percent conservative, Washington is empty and powerless, and “Orwellian” reform zones house progressive troublemakers. But during this “new normal” period–while tens of thousands are imprisoned in political ghettos simply because of their ideology–Americans still want the nation back closer to the middle. Most don’t want to understand and others understand but won’t say it: a new “political” normal rarely goes back to the old ways.

The scary part is: I believe that after the next economic collapse, OHIO 2029 America will be a reality.

 

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SHE GOT SOMETHING RIGHT…HEADS MUST ROLL

Heads Must RollHillary Clinton said this while on her book tour: “These five guys are not a threat to the United States. They are a threat to the safety and security of Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s up to those two countries to make the decision once and for all that these are threats to them….”

It pains me to no end to agree with her, but I must say a small part of what she said last week made sense. Let me say first that I am taking the point out of context. Clinton was discussing the Taliban Five swap, that day’s shit-show that captured our attention. And by design, this swap took our focus off all the other shit-shows in Washington, D.C. This was true until this past week when the Invasion of Iraq began.

Now we have a new shit-show, and this one involves a barbaric jihadist militant group on steroids to worry about. And just like our leaders in Washington, D.C., we were finding out about this newest threat on television. So now we have it clear as daylight in front of us…again. Our entire government was caught off-guard, and America, after we spent hundreds of billions of dollars and lost 4,486 lives to build a new Iraq, we have egg on our face…again.

But I don’t want to delve into all those silly questions we should already know but probably never will figure out: Why didn’t we finalize that U.S.-Iraq forces agreement with al-Maliki? Why didn’t we know about this ISIS threat earlier, and how will ISIS embolden other Islamic terrorists? Why does Iran all of a sudden care so much about Iraq, and how will the United States respond to all this madness? The reason is we all know the dirty truth: the inside-the-beltway pundits and press have already callously lined up to answer these questions for us…just so we never do know the truth.

So, to cut to the chase, I want to know one thing: What will the Islamic world do this time to save itself? Between you and me, I fear the entire Middle East has reached the tipping point. The United States and the rest of the “non-Islamic” world are sick of dealing with the mess, and no one in his right mind will put more boots back on the ground. This includes the United States of America, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, or the rest of the Global “G8” powers.

This simple fact leaves the Middle East to sink or swim…and that part really worries me, so let me tell you why by answering a question I wish more people would ask: Are we still living in a post-Cold War world?

“Hell, yes,” I’d answer every time and never blink an eye, believing in a scary way that we may actually be in the final, most volatile stage.

Samuel P. Huntington, in his mid-1990s book The Clash of Civilizations, suggested the post-Cold War world would return to a world where future conflicts would originate from clashes between religious civilizations. During my learning years, I was forced to write papers on Huntington’s thesis and research over twenty times; I read his book over five times and still have it today, resting peacefully far away from Washington, D.C. inside my safe and secure Atlanta home. Unfortunately, those who worked in Washington during and post-Cold War have moved on and the new policymakers are looking at the world through a progressive “Haves and Have Nots” prism that blames the United States for all inequality in the world. I’d like to ask these children why they despise capitalism so much and how they think the never-ending flow of…our money…will change minds that were made up hundreds of years ago. I’d like to ask them whether they’ve ever read Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations, but I already know the answer. You see, safe and secure societies have never changed. They’ve always been based on a small minority that has everything and a majority that has nothing. America, for the time being, just ended up in the minority, and it may sound harsh to hear and it’s in no means Christian to say, but it’s true: The majority doesn’t have to like you, but they do have to fear you. So what can be done when that fear is gone? My answer is simply: that fallout was planned by design. It’s going to happen. Watch it from a distance and hope for the best.

Now back to Hillary’s statement, the one I dreadfully agree with. The Sunni and the Shiite are going to have to fight this one alone, beginning with the Sunni-backed ISIS jihadist against Shiite-backed Iraq and very likely Iran. The call to arms by the Grand Ayatollah has already aggravated the Sunni-Shiite sectarian divide and this is what separates us from them. They will never fight for their country and certainly not for their corrupted governments. But they will fight for their Ayatollah, the grand mosque, and other sacred sites. The most brutal fanatic will win, but they will turn on each other eventually; as much as they hate the West, they hate the barbaric “sharia” regimes more. The last call to arms nearly tore Iraq apart in 2006 and 2007. The one just made may very likely tear apart the entire region, so I hope my final point will resonate with everyone: we’ve been beaten in our own game; we’re the dummies; those living in the caves are the wise ones. Our U.S. military fought itself into a frenzy by trying to protect us as our own leaders in Washington raised the white flag. It spied on its own people, using social media and tapping phones, instead of focusing on real problems, and it is likely to release the remaining militants from Guantanamo to reap more havoc, this time on its own people. Hillary was right; she knew this was coming and so did the rest of our leaders in Washington. The fact that none of them will blink an eye when the real bloodletting starts is the travesty and national disgrace…so welcome to Middle East’s new normal.

So what are our must dos? Here are my top six:

1)   Get the children of out Washington, D.C. once and for all. This includes the White House, State Department, NSC, CIA, DIA, DHS, NSA, and anywhere else that is responsible for our national security.

2)   Put old-school intelligence back into intelligence. There is no excuse for writing intelligence reports by listening to the news, and we need to manage the fallout; what is happening in the Middle East doesn’t have to happen elsewhere…India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, and North Africa.

3)   Repatriate Christians in the Middle East to sectarian nations and secure a new Kurdish state.

4)   Build the Keystone Pipeline.

5)   Secure the U.S. borders.

6)   Turn your television on and watch from a distance. The newest shit-show will be rated “R” for Extreme Violence, Horrific Hatred, Heart-Wrenching, and Painful to Watch. Our President has decided to watch it play out on television; Hillary Clinton has decided too and so have Chuck Hagel, Susan Rice, and the rest of our leaders in Washington…so why shouldn’t we?

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You Russian Now…Again!

As I’ve watched the volatile situation in Ukraine over the past several weeks, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is one sure thing you can say about Russia: Russians are very predictable.

Of course, I say this kindly and respectfully; I never studied Russian history or culture, never lived there, and never traveled there. Plus, I stopped picking sides years ago when the press stopped reporting the news and started working on campaigns.

In all honesty, Putin does like to act up…about every five to six years it seems. Regress back to August, 2008–Russian forces invaded the Georgian region of South Ossetia–and the world was shocked that a civilized nation in the 21st century would actually stoop so low. Well, Russia has done it again, and the world is shocked…again. Well, I’m not shocked because…remember people: There is one sure thing you can say about Russia: Russians are very predictable.

I write this with a smirk on my face as I reminisce about my own time in Georgia. I went there in 2009 with a Commerce Department big shot to escort a group of American companies to Tbilisi. Call it a dog and pony show or just our trying to help the Georgian people recover, but the United States Government pretty much doles out an expensive show of goodwill every time something bad happens in another country, and the goodwill always plays out the same regardless of where you go. Foreign investment has become America’s biggest export; the United States Government is always first on the list when it comes to helping others and last for taking care of its own citizens; and, regretfully, I was part of the attack.

So this is how my time in Georgia played out. I busted my butt for a few days preparing for the delegation to arrive, and I busted my butt for a few more days while they were there. I call it kowtowing, but that doesn’t matter because there is always one day at the end to play before you fly home.

It just so happened that on my Thursday playday it rained all day like a monsoon had arrived in the Caucasus. So I put my heart and soul into the goodwill of the hotel staff and that was my biggest mistake–trusting people who apparently enjoy recommending “hellish” outings for innocent, free-loving Westerners.

So let me tell you about this hellish outing, cut right out of Google. “The banya is usually a wooden structure, somewhere in the village. The insides features a steam-room with bottom and top shelves and a wood-burning stove that is kept at temperature of above 200 degrees. The procedure also usually involves energizing beating with a venik, which is a bundle of either birch, oak, or eucalyptus branches bound together that you either use yourself or ask someone to massage all over your body. The banya also has many benefits for the health of the visitor, it not only cleans the body, but also heals; steam opens up the body’s capillaries, increases blood flow, and jump-starts the metabolism.”

Google shows pictures of normal-looking men and women sitting in a normal-looking sauna, smiling and enjoying themselves as they beat themselves with leafy branches. It’s a lie. It’s nothing more than a mean concocted excuse to torture non-Russians. I get it now.

So that play day in Tbilisi, Georgia, I had lunch with my colleague Carolyn, and at some point, between two Bloody Marys and lamb stew, we managed to talk ourselves into trying it. Two hours later, we walked in together, and Carolyn was taken away in one direction, and I was taken the opposite way.

Have you ever thought about how hot it has to be for your insides to begin cooking? I did that day. The dark and tiny sauna was, to say the least…hotter than hell. I was told to lie facedown with my head sitting on a wreath of ice-chilled eucalyptus branches. I enjoyed that…for about two seconds…before one of the sauna attendees started beating me with more eucalyptus branches. That ordeal lasted about a half-hour before I finally was told I could leave.

As I walked out, the sauna attendant, grinning from ear to ear, said to me, “You Georgian now.”

“Is that it? Is it over?” I asked, stumbling, barely able to talk and seeing double.

“No. You just started.”

I should have plotted my escape then, but I was gullible. In another room, I was told to lie down on a cold marble table where I was beaten with eucalyptus branches for thirty more minutes, facedown and face-up.

“Is that it? Is it over now?” I begged again as I climbed down from the table.

“No. Not yet,” a second sauna attendant said with an even heavier Russian accent. Even after so many years, everyone seemed to speak Russian and seemed to appreciate everything from the mighty Russian motherland. I called it the “gorilla in the room,” but regardless, by that time I should have had my guard up. But…I was still gullible as I let this innocent-looking person walk me over to another side of the room, yank my towel from me, and instruct me to stand still and not move.

So that’s what I did. I stood still and did not move…naked, in the middle of a cold room, watching a man with a rope in his hands. Two seconds later, he jerked the rope, and that’s when I looked up to see a thirty-gallon wooden water barrel tilting over and releasing ice-cold water on top of me.

“You Russian now,” the man said proudly and then escorted me to a quiet sitting area.

“Relax and enjoy yourself,” he said to me like that was even possible.

Relax and enjoy yourself, I cogitated. I was just violated and you want me to relax. How much did I pay for this anyway? In my head, I was converting Georgia laris to U.S. dollars.

Oh how I wonder what I looked like when I finally walked out. And then I saw Carolyn. You see, Carolyn is one of those Washington, D.C., up-and-coming loyal professionals. She was always perfect—didn’t matter when or where. Not one hair was out of place; her makeup was perfect, and she carried herself that way everywhere she went. But that day, after the banya…well…she was a hot mess.

“Are you okay?” I asked as she walked up.

“That was just wrong,” she said.

“Those damn Russians,” was all I could muster.

We were defeated and in pain, and we spent the rest of the day in the bar.

It was about nine months before I went back to another former Soviet republic. This time Latvia, the subject of my third political fiction Wiggle Rooms: A Tale of a Fallen Anchorite, and while I was minding my own business, being a responsible person, I was talked into doing another banya.

“The Baltics are different,” an American Embassy officer from Helsinki said. He was working in Latvia on the same project I was. We’d finished our work, he was taking a ferry back to Helsinki, and I was ready for my playday.

Before I make a long, hellish story short, I feel the need to make one last statement: There is one sure thing you can say about Russia: the Russians are very predictableand so are their banyas.

I blanked most of it out, but the two lines…the same two lines I’d heard before…clearly came back to haunt me.

“You Baltic now,” the first sauna attendant said to me as I finished cooking inside a wood-burning stove.

“You Russian now,” another said to me as a wall of ice-cold water came down on top of me.

Now back to real time, real life, and the world we must live in together–it is odd how three simple words–“You Russian now”–is resonating again now that Russia has invaded another’s sovereign territory and is very unlikely to leave. In all honesty, we need to accept the truth even if it hurts and doesn’t fit in our post-Cold War world. Russia didn’t leave Georgia, and it probably will not leave Crimea. That said, it is up to all of us to understand Russia for what it is, accept what happened, and never let it happen again.

Just look at me; I did the banya two times before I learned my lesson. There will not be a third time.

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same thing for Russia.

It’s a small world…so write about it.

 

D.A. (Dennis) Winstead

Award-winning International Author

Inspirational and Conservative Blogger

Founder and Head of

Color Him Father Foundation

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You Russian Now…Again!

 As I’ve watched the volatile situation in Ukraine over the past several weeks, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is one sure thing you can say about Russia: Russians are very predictable.

Of course, I say this kindly and respectfully; I never studied Russian history or culture, never lived there, and never traveled there. Plus, I stopped picking sides years ago when the press stopped reporting the news and started working on campaigns.

In all honesty, Putin does like to act up…about every five to six years it seems. Regress back to August, 2008–Russian forces invaded the Georgia region  of South Ossetia–and the world was shocked that a civilized nation in the 21st century would actually stoop so low. Well, Russia has done it again, and the world is shocked…again. Well, I’m not shocked because…remember people: There is one sure thing you can say about Russia: Russians are very predictable.

I write this with a smirk on my face as I reminisce about my own time in Georgia. I went there in 2009 with a Commerce Department big shot to escort a group of American companies to Tbilisi. Call it a dog and pony show or just our trying to help the Georgian people recover, but the United States Government pretty much doles out an expensive show of goodwill every time something bad happens in another country, and the goodwill always plays out the same regardless of where you go. Foreign investment has become America’s biggest export; the United States Government is always first on the list when it comes to helping others and last for taking care of its own citizens; and, regretfully, I was part of the attack.

So this is how my time in Georgia played out. I busted my butt for a few days preparing for the delegation to arrive, and I busted my butt for a few more days while they were there. I call it kowtowing, but that doesn’t matter because there is always one day at the end to play before you fly home.

It just so happened that on my Thursday playday it rained all day like a monsoon had arrived in the Caucasus. So I put my heart and soul into the goodwill of the hotel staff and that was my biggest mistake–trusting people who apparently enjoy recommending “hellish” outings for innocent, free-loving Westerners.

So let me tell you about this hellish outing, cut right out of Google. “The banya is usually a wooden structure, somewhere in the village. The insides features a steam-room with bottom and top shelves and a wood-burning stove that is kept at temperature of above 200 degrees. The procedure also usually involves energizing beating with a venik, which is a bundle of either birch, oak, or eucalyptus branches bound together that you either use yourself or ask someone to massage all over your body. The banya also has many benefits for the health of the visitor, it not only cleans the body, but also heals; steam opens up the body’s capillaries, increases blood flow, and jump-starts the metabolism.”

Google shows pictures of normal-looking men and women sitting in a normal-looking sauna, smiling and enjoying themselves as they beat themselves with leafy branches. It’s a lie. It’s nothing more than a mean concocted excuse to torture non-Russians. I get it now.

So that playday in Tbilisi, Georgia, I had lunch with my colleague Carolyn, and at some point, between two Bloody Marys and lamb stew, we managed to talk ourselves into trying it. Two hours later, we walked in together, and Carolyn was taken away in one direction, and I was taken the opposite way.

Have you ever thought about how hot it has to be for your insides to begin cooking? I did that day. The dark and tiny sauna was, to say the least…hotter than hell. I was told to lie facedown with my head sitting on a wreath of ice-chilled eucalyptus branches. I enjoyed that…for about two seconds…before one of the sauna attendees started beating me with more eucalyptus branches. That ordeal lasted about a half-hour before I finally was told I could leave.

As I walked out, the sauna attendant, grinning from ear to ear, said to me, “You Georgian now.”

“Is that it? Is it over?” I asked, stumbling, barely able to talk and seeing double.

“No. You just started.”

I should have plotted my escape then, but I was gullible. In another room, I was told to lie down on a cold marble table where I was beaten with eucalyptus branches for thirty more minutes, facedown and face-up.

“Is that it? Is it over now?” I begged again as I climbed down from the table.

“No. Not yet,” a second sauna attendant said with an even heavier Russian accent. Even after so many years, everyone seemed to speak Russian and seemed to appreciate everything from the mighty Russian motherland. I called it the “gorilla in the room,” but regardless, by that time I should have had my guard up. But…I was still gullible as I let this innocent-looking person walk me over to another side of the room, yank my towel from me, and instruct me to stand still and not move.

So that’s what I did. I stood still and did not move…naked, in the middle of a cold room, watching a man with a rope in his hands. Two seconds later, he jerked the rope, and that’s when I looked up to see a thirty-gallon wooden water barrel tilting over and releasing ice-cold water on top of me.

“You Russian now,” the man said proudly and then escorted me to a quiet sitting area.

“Relax and enjoy yourself,” he said to me like that was even possible.

Relax and enjoy yourself, I cogitated. I was just violated and you want me to relax. How much did I pay for this anyway? In my head, I was converting Georgia laris to U.S. dollars.

Oh how I wonder what I looked like when I finally walked out. And then I saw Carolyn. You see, Carolyn is one of those Washington, D.C., up-and-coming loyal professionals. She was always perfect—didn’t matter when or where. Not one hair was out of place; her makeup was perfect, and she carried herself that way everywhere she went. But that day, after the banya…well…she was a hot mess.

“Are you okay?” I asked as she walked up.

“That was just wrong,” she said.

“Those damn Russians,” was all I could muster.

We were defeated and in pain, and we spent the rest of the day in the bar.

It was about nine months before I went back to another former Soviet republic. This time Latvia, the subject of my third political fiction Wiggle Rooms: A Tale of a Fallen Anchorite, and while I was minding my own business, being a responsible person, I was talked into doing another banya.

“The Baltics are different,” an American Embassy officer from Helsinki said. He was working in Latvia on the same project I was. We’d finished our work, he was taking a ferry back to Helsinki, and I was ready for my playday.

Before I make a long, hellish story short, I feel the need to make one last statement: There is one sure thing you can say about Russia: the Russians are very predictableand so are their banyas.

I blanked most of it out, but the two lines…the same two lines I’d heard before…clearly came back to haunt me.

“You Baltic now,” the first sauna attendant said to me as I finished cooking inside a wood-burning stove.

“You Russian now,” another said to me as a wall of ice-cold water came down on top of me.

Now back to real time, real life, and the world we must live in together–it is odd how three simple words–“You Russian now”–is resonating again now that Russia has invaded another’s sovereign territory and is very unlikely to leave. In all honesty, we need to accept the truth even if it hurts and doesn’t fit in our post-Cold War world. Russia didn’t leave Georgia, and it probably will not leave Crimea. That said, it is up to all of us to understand Russia for what it is, accept what happened, and never let it happen again.

Just look at me; I did the banya two times before I learned my lesson. There will not be a third time.

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same thing for Russia.

It’s a small world…so write about it.

 

D.A. (Dennis) Winstead

Award-winning International Author

Inspirational Blogger

Founder and Head of

Color Him Father Foundation

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My Bad Habit

I have a bad habit of telling people that I decided to leave the State Department while I was flying over Africa. Somewhere between Nairobi and Ndjamena; Monrovia and Ouagadougou; Khartoum and Johannesburg…where doesn’t matter; it’s the story that resonates with strangers–by myself, faraway from others, distant and defeated.

But that isn’t true. I actually decided to leave the Department years before, after I met a black man named Eric Sheppard.

Eric is the founder and president of Diversity Restoration Solutions (DRS). DRS is a Virginia-based international trade development firm specializing in linking together U.S. and African Diaspora businesses, organizations, and individuals with their African business counterparts through trade, business, and cultural relationships. Through his network of partners, Region 7 Network Initiative, DRS is providing a solution to support the “new” Africa for business and cultural relationship-building opportunities. This solution is named Xodus 2019 Homecoming and is a movement that leads up to the 400th anniversary of the African transatlantic slave trade in 2019. This homecoming in 2019 will culminate with the opening of DRS’s first trade, business, and cultural center in Banjul, The Gambia.

Recently, I asked Eric, “Why is DRS launching its first ‘culture restoration’ success story in The Gambia?” He replied, “The time is now to ‘heal’ from the pain of this tragic holocaust through educational, cultural, and business exchange programs.”

When I asked why he felt the need to be involved in this project, Eric’s answer was short and simple. “My DNA took me to West Africa. I followed Alex Haley (he opened the door) to The Gambia because he traced his roots and inspired me to do likewise.” And it resonated.

Those within the DRS network are living and breathing reminders of our nation’s horrible slave past. And like Eric, many of them have DNA ties to The Gambia and other parts of West Africa. I had the honor of meeting many of them during a planning meeting last year outside of Washington, D.C. I learned a lot that day, not about slavery and Africa, but about the heart and soul of what this is all about: these people are not doing this to remind white America about this horrible period. They’re not doing this to point fingers and blame others. They’re doing this to restore cultural and business ties with their homeland.

There is something else that resonated when I first met Eric Sheppard. Eric walked away from his comfortable life in America, a good job with the Defense Department, and a steady paycheck.

So back to that day I met Eric…well, let me hit the “restart” button. I actually met Eric months before in Banjul; we were there to attend a trade development conference. I was sitting pretty…a comfortable job at the State Department, sending me to faraway lands whenever I felt bored and longed to travel. Eric was shifting his part-time small business focus to opportunities in West Africa. We talked that day, but that was about it.

Then, about a year later, we met in Washington and that is when Eric, with his strong and determined wife beside him, told me that he traveled to Africa only once and came back to America and decided to walk away. “Giving back to those who need the most,” is what he called it, and I could see the passion and unwavering commitment in their eyes.

I sat there that day and decided silently that I was going to do the same. I didn’t know when, or how, or who was going to be by my side. But I was also going to walk away one day…so I could also give back.

To make a long story short…Eric was much faster, braver, smarter, and more passionate than me; he went there once and figured it out; I traveled to Africa more than twenty times during my 1989-2011 tenure at the State Department; I waited until 2011 finally to walk away, begin living, and start growing passion.

It is a pleasure to recognize a brave pioneer, another likeminded believer in giving back and growing passion–Eric Sheppard.

So let me tell you now why Eric’s project is so important. I love West Africa and places like Dakar, Senegal, where nearly tiny innocent-looking islands dot the sea. During slavery, cities like Dakar were human transport centers. Just within eyesight of the city port is Goree Island, the sight of the infamous “Door of No Return.” If you’ve ever been there, it is this one small passageway through the thick rock wall that will always be etched in your brain. But beyond this tragic piece of history is the in-your-face tragedy called astute poverty. It consumes places such as Senegal, The Gambia, and every other inch of West Africa and the rest of the sub-continent.

So what does Eric and the DRS have to do with this? That’s an easy one so let me begin.

I’ve heard it all: There’s so much poverty; where do you even start? The problem is just too complex. I can’t make a difference, can I?

So this is what I say: I embrace private enterprise wholeheartedly, and I believe that the economic theory of capitalism is strong because it is the only thing that truly works. The trickle-down isn’t perfect and is never fast or heavy enough, for obvious reasons. Too few hands are reaching down to pull others up; too many people forget to send the elevator back down after they get to the top; too much greed and selfishness. But private enterprise, pulling others up, and giving back via business and trade beats handouts and government intervention hands down.

This is the reason DRS’s success in The Gambia and elsewhere in Africa–building new commercial linkages between our private sector and theirs–is so important. It might be a slow start, but it’s a start.

So let me close this one where I began–talking about my bad habit. The truth is: my bad habit wasn’t fudging my story. My bad habit was not seeing the possibilities staring me down, not feeling the passion growing inside of me, not listening to my own inspiration, and more than anything, not following the many others who had chosen to step up and walk away a long time before I came around.

Don’t let a bad habit slow you down. Step up and be a part of the solution as small as that might seem.+

It’s a small world, so write about it.

D.A. (Dennis) Winstead

Award-winning International Author

Inspirational Blogger and

Founder and Head of

Color Him Father Foundation

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To learn more about Diversity Restoration Solution’s 2019 Homecoming Project and how you can partner with Eric A. Sheppard, go to www.diversityrestoration.com.

Also be sure to read Eric’s monthly restoration message in the New Journal and Guidenewspaper in Norfolk, Virginia, one of the nation’s oldest African-American owned and published newspapers. Eric Sheppard will pen exclusive monthly columns on the 2019 Homecoming Project, providing updates and progress reports leading up to 2019. Please take a moment and click on the monthly stories and share with your family and friends around the world.

January 2013 – Where is Our Promised Land?

February 2013 – African Heritage Month

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